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Focus on history, heritage – Al-Saeedan son of soil

Ahmad Al-Sarraf
Hamad Mohammad Al-Saeedan was born in Kuwait almot 80 years ago and died at the age of 52. He was a diplomat, a scholar and a linguist and author of the concise Kuwait encyclopedia, which tells the story of Kuwaiti society, its language, its vocabulary and translations, customs and traditions of all kinds, etiquette and folklore wisdom and philosophy in life.

The encyclopedia, which took seven years to complete, also tells about the Kuwaiti land, deserts and vegetation, birds, weather and the sea, the fish and the ships and adventures and much more.

Saeedan did not finish high school, because of his employment at the Kuwait Radio, but he persevered in the study of the English language, drawing and topography at the British Academy in the United Kingdom.

During his work at the Kuwait Radio, he moved to the library, and continued studying Kuwait’s history and its heritage which was an essential part for reference and research for scholars.

In 1963 when he moved to work with the Foreign Ministry he was sent to the Embassy of Kuwait in Nairobi and worked there until 1970. He joined the Kuwait Embassy in the United Kingdom in 1972 and served the country until 1985 as information attache and consultant and returned to Kuwait to continue his documentary at the Foreign Ministry, and was Secretary-General of the library, a month before the Iraqi invation of the country.

When he fell it, he requested for treatment abroad and died in the UK on Aug 27, 1991, after suffering from an illness.

Al-Saeedan has left behind an important cultural wealth, which he has documented in many historical topcis in his books and the famous encyclopedia consisting of three parts, 1,671 pages. His intention was to pubish the fourth part but his death prevented him from doing so.

The encyclopedia became a general reference for Kuwait’s history and heritage. Following the publication the copies were sold in no time and it had to be reprinted in 1981, revised and overpriced. After the death of Saeedan his heir reprinted it in 1993, with support from the Kuwait Foundation for Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). Today, more than 35 years after the last revision of the known encyclopedia, due to its literary and historical importance, it has become a need to review, renew and revise.

I believe the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences can do the work better by assigning a team of academics and researchers in Kuwait’s heritage and specialists in the Kuwaiti documents and history to perform this task.

Although there were no legal obstacles to prevent the KFAS from carrying out the funding process, many, and we are among them, were willing to donate money to fund this national documentary, while the assignment process shall be the task of the KFAS.

email: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

By Ahmad Al-Sarraf

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